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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Orwell Remembered ?

I will attempt to list one percent of one percent of the cases in which Orwell is quoted in current political discussions.

I think Julian Sanchez doesn't quite remember "Politics and the English Language." He asked if "In the tank" is a dead metaphor. my twitty comment follows:

And what is the etymology of "dead metaphor" ?

I think, when you check here

you will find that you meant to write "dying metaphor." That is, I believe the phrases come from "Politics and the English Language," where "in the tank" would be denounced as a metaphor without an associated image which has not yet reverted to being like an ordinary word (now that I'm being a parody of nit-picking I should underline my absurdity by noting that Orwell seems to have miscounted the number of words in "Iron resolution."

DYING METAPHORS. A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically ‘dead’ (e. g. iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves.

While we're on Orwell I consider Sanchez's list of tanks. How often did Orwell write about each of them ?

"In the [fish] tank" as in "like a domesticated pet"?
I'm not sure Orwell ever did. Could he have written 1984 without using "like a fish tank" as a metaphor ? Quite possible. Could anyone else have done so ? Less likely.

"In the [Abrams] tank" as in "going to battle for"?
Well wouldn't be an Abrams. Can't think of an example in all of his war commentary.

"In the [gas] tank" as in "acting as fuel for"?
hmm about petrol rationing. No memory.

"In the [drunk] tank" as in "besotted with"?
He wrote an early essay about his experience in which he pretended to be drunk and was forcibly taken to a drunk tank. Don't recall what he called it.

"In the [septic] tank" as in "prepared to get dirty on behalf of"?

Ah yesss. Twice at least. He shifts from a review of another book to review "No Orchids for Miss Blandish" writing IIRC "and now for a header into the cess pool."

And also once wrote IIRC "sawing sawing the branch we were sitting on, but when it gave way (much sooner than anyone excpected) it seems that there had been some confusion. Below instead of a bed of roses there was a cess pool full of barbed wire."

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